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Our Purpose

To make Australia stronger, safer and more prosperous, to provide timely and responsive consular and passport services, and to ensure a secure Australian Government presence overseas.

Highlights 2018–19

Priority 1

Promote a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific

  • Strengthened Indo-Pacific relationships
  • Stepped up support for the Pacific and Timor-Leste
  • Celebrated five years of the New Colombo Plan—creating people-to-people links in our region with almost 50,000 Australian scholars since 2014

Priority 2

Pursue our economic, trade and investment agenda for opportunity

  • Helped facilitate $470 billion in Australian goods and services exports
  • Free trade agreements signed with Indonesia and Hong Kong
  • Secured new access for Australian businesses to government contracts worth $2.3 trillion in 47 international markets

Priority 3

Keep Australia and Australians safe and secure

  • Led international advocacy on counter-terrorism, cyber and international security
  • Worked against modern slavery, human trafficking and nuclear proliferation
  • Supported PM leadership at G20 to prevent the use of social media platforms by terrorists

Priority 4

Deliver an innovative development assistance program

  • Delivered world class $3.9 billion development assistance program
  • A record $1.2 billion to the Pacific
  • Humanitarian assistance to Vanuatu, Indonesia and Laos for disaster response

Priority 5

Advance global cooperation

  • Championed human rights in the United Nations Human Rights Council
  • Shaped the world’s institutions, rules and norms
  • Flagship Australia now public diplomacy promotion in Japan and ASEAN

Priority 6

Support Australians overseas

  • Issued a record 2.1 million passports
  • Assisted 13,715 Australians in difficulty overseas, about 1,400 consular cases each day

Priority 7

Provide a secure and effective overseas presence

  • Opened three new posts—Kolkata (India), Funafuti (Tuvalu) and Shenyang (China)
  • Award-winning Post-in-a-Box mobile global communications capability
Infographic showing the DFAT posts and offices around the globe

Our posts

Rolling out the largest expansion of Australia's diplomatic network in 40 years with 120 posts in 83 countries

Nine locations across Australia

Around half our posts and three quarters of our people overseas are in the Indo-Pacific

Our posts include embassies, high commissions, multilateral missions, consulates-general, consulates and representative offices*

Our beginnings

Established as the Department of External Affairs in 1901

First overseas post opened in London in 1910

First Australian trade commissioners appointed to Canada, New Zealand, Japan, China and the Netherlands East Indies (later Indonesia) 1934–35

Diplomatic posts established in the United States and Japan in 1940 and China in 1941

  • DFAT posts
  • State and territory offices
  • Torres Strait Treaty Liaison Office
  • Austrade-managed posts providing consular services

Our people


6,078 staff

3,136 overseas including 2,276 locally engaged staff in our overseas posts

2,942 in Australia

Our diversity Australian Public Service staff

18% from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

2.9% report a disability

2.7% identify as Indigenous

40% of our heads of mission are women

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